How To Break Into A Niche Industry

by Heather R. Huhman | August 01, 2017

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Female photographer on a road taking a photo

You’ve always loved baseball, and for as long as you can remember, you’ve wanted to work for your favorite baseball team. However, as you may have found, landing sports jobs is incredibly difficult. This applies to any niche industry. You need a targeted job search strategy that consists of more than merely scrolling through job boards and submitting dozens of applications each week. With a structured, strategic approach, you can stand out among the competition in a niche industry.

You already know the basics of attracting employers. But are you doing enough? Here’s a look at standard job search techniques that you need to put more thought into when attempting to break into a niche industry:

The Written Word

The debate around the effectiveness of cover letters continues, but most niche industry employers agree on one thing—you can wow them with an awesome cover letter. As a 2017 survey from JobsInSports found, 84 percent of employers say a cover letter is crucial for candidates to demonstrate their value proposition.

But don’t just throw out a boilerplate letter to all employers. Instead, tailor it to both the employer and the specific industry. Share examples of how your knowledge and skills are an asset. If you’re pursuing sports job, explain how you produced baseball segments during an internship at a radio station. Describe the skills you used to deliver content and how your passion fueled your work ethic.

The "Who You Know" Approach

The old adage, "It’s not what you know; it’s about who you know" is a half-truth. You need both knowledge about your industry and strong skills as well as a strong professional network. Networking is essential for any job seeker, but it is especially helpful for niche industries. In fact, the JobsInSports survey found that 21 percent of employers say candidates who join professional organizations stand out.

Bottom line: employers in niche industries love professional organizations. The survey also found that 23 percent say joining one is the best way for candidates to gain experience.

Your networking strategy should involve both in-person and online interactions. Join LinkedIn groups to share your expertise or start discussions. For example, if you’re looking for sports jobs in event management, join both general event management groups and sports event management groups. You can learn from both circles and meet people who are industry thought leaders.

The Lifelong Learner

To stand out in your industry, seek out learning opportunities. This shows that you’re excited to better yourself on a consistent basis. Attend industry events, like seminars, workshops, and conferences. You get to learn more about your industry while expanding your network, but you also stand out to employers. The JobsInSports survey found that 15 percent of employers say the best way you can express your enthusiasm for the industry is to attend company/industry events. Learn about upcoming events from your professional organization, and attend ones that align with your career goals.

The Online Presence

The trend of building a personal brand online is still prevalent, with 22 percent of employers stating the first thing they do when they get your application is search your name online. While you look to secure a full-time position, start promoting your skills and consider doing freelance work. In fact, the survey also found that 9 percent of employers say freelance work is the best way for you to gain experience. Even if you don’t have much experience, you can still build a great online presence. Employers in niche industries want to see your passion and knowledge to better visualize where you fit in their organization.

Keep your online presence consistent and professional. Use a website, blog, or online portfolio to show your skills. If you want sports jobs in media, share sports photographs you took. Develop content to tell sports stories and publish it on your website. The mindset you need for niche industries is very specific. Competition is especially high, and you’re among a passionate group of job seekers and professionals. Determine a strategy that shows your value, and run with it.

 

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, a content-marketing and digital-PR consultancy for job-search and human-resources technologies. She is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle.

Tags: career advice | job hunt | niche industry | niche market

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